The trend may be for pop idols or cute kids to caddie for participants at the Masters Par-3 Contest but Graeme McDowell took a different tack yesterday at Augusta National, welcoming an injured American veteran to the party.
Army corporal Kevin McCloskey sacrificed his legs and suffered vision loss in his right eye, extensive burns and a traumatic brain injury when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. Through the Birdies for the Brave programme he found golf and credits it for helping both his physical and psychological rehabilitation.
Yesterday the game brought him to Augusta National and an afternoon to remember in the company of a welcoming McDowell.
Tiger Woods is not the only wearer of an Augusta National Green Jacket to be recovering from back surgery. Another is club chairman Billy Payne, who underwent major surgery last November and is therefore sympathetic to the four-time Masters champion's frustration at not playing here this year.
“It is frustrating not to play golf, and I'm shooting for the middle of June,” Payne said of his expected return to the course. “Unfortunately we're closed then.
“It's pretty tough just looking out your office and seeing the golf course and you can't get on it, but I'm soon to be back.”
Payne and Woods swapped medical stories at Tuesday's Champions Dinner and the chairman said of the injured player: “He looked good. He looked better than me. I was delighted.
“You know, he's encouraged. I could tell the fire is building back up in his belly, and I suspect Tiger's going to be back fairly quickly, and I'm looking forward to it.”
Gastronomes among you will be anxiously awaiting details of the menu at that Champions Dinner. Tradition dictates that the defending champion gets to pick the dishes to be served to his contemporaries, who gathered at the Augusta National clubhouse on Tuesday night.
This year was no different and 2015 champion Jordan Spieth served up an “Authentic Texas Barbecue” to honour his home state. Beef brisket, smoked half chicken and pork ribs were accompanied by BBQ baked beans, bacon and chive potato salad and vegetables.
Reports of a bucking bronco or rodeo bull machine being parked on the putting green were unconfirmed.
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